Why repeat and referral business isn’t enough!

There are always two competing factors in sourcing mortgage broker leads: quantity and quality.

If you don’t get the balance right, you’ll either end up starving for leads and pursue an inefficient and reactive marketing approach or be flooded with unqualified customers.

Advances in technology and social media platforms has been the great enabler in achieving this balance and there are more tools and strategies today than ever before.

The truth: most leads are terrible

Sorry to burst your bubble but it’s true: time to rip that band-aid off right now.

In fact, around 80% of your marketing loses money!

At Home Loan Experts, we use very intelligent marketing that’s laser-focused on specific niches and is designed to generate high-quality leads.

Discover more by sending your resume to careers@homeloanexperts.com.au if you feel you’re the right fit for our office.

What’s your unique value proposition (UVP)?

Potential home loan customers can just as easily take their business to another mortgage broker or to the bank directly.

Your goal is to prove that you’re the better option but that comes down to pinpointing what sets you apart from the competition:

  • Price
  • Speed
  • Efficiency or making the home loan process easy
  • Lender choice
  • Solving difficult problems
  • Being an expert in certain areas

For example, if you have expert knowledge in helping people who have unusual employment, can’t prove their income by traditional means or have trouble getting a bank to use all of their income for their application, position yourself as a specialist in unusual income home loans.

Another example is if you’ve developed a good understanding of each of your lenders’ processes and you know the shortcuts to faster approvals, smoother settlements and how to escalate applications.

You can use this as the basis of your offering and target vanilla customers who want a quick and hassle-free approval.

Play to your strengths and experience and don’t make promises or guarantees that you can’t keep, such as promising the best price on the market when you know you have a limited panel of lenders or you don’t have the negotiating power to get significant discounts.

A little hint: you actually need to tweak your service offering slightly depending on the client you’re dealing with.

For example, not all customers are concerned with getting a good price. Some of them want a solution because they’ve been knocked back by a bank in the past.

The power of your personal network

Family and friends

Family, relatives, friends and even work colleagues can be a treasure trove of new business, or they can at least point you in the direction of someone who needs a home loan, wants to refinance or is looking to get into property investing.

Outside of your inner circle

Go to events and make friends!

This can include property and home buying seminars and even open houses and auctions (just be sure to speak with the real estate agent beforehand so you’re not stepping on their toes).

In this way, you can target specific markets and you can play to your strengths as a mortgage broker: listening to home buyer’s dreams and life goals.

Just be aware that networking often takes place outside of business hours so be prepared to sacrifice some of your personal time.

It also takes a long time to build trust and to get new business and referrals.

The trick is to target a specific community or market where your target customers tend to hang out.

For example, if you want to go after high net worth customers like doctors and lawyers, you should be attending events like the Australian Property Expo and sticking close to investment and luxury property seminars.

You may even want to consider registering for your own stall.

Your local area

In the past, a letterbox or doorstep drop with your business card or a pamphlet was commonplace.

This type of marketing still has its place but just bear in mind that it’s difficult to track the return on your investment and time.

A cheaper and less time-consuming approach is to set up local business page through Google My Business to improve your local Google ranking.

Most people search online and especially their mobile to find local businesses and a local mortgage broker is just as sought after as a real estate agent or an accountant.

With a complete My Business profile, you’ll have a better chance of showing up in the local map results on the Google search results page.

Repeat business

This is an easy way for you to win more business without trying very hard.

Think about it:

  • The customer already knows you so you don’t have to build up a rapport with them again.
  • If you did a good job the first time around, you don’t need to re-sell your skills and experience either.

A simple follow-up phone call or email can mean the difference between your client refinancing with you or taking their business elsewhere.

Most brokers are too lazy to this after settlement but the reality is that it’s the cheapest and most effective way to reduce discharges.

This is particularly true of vanilla customers who can just as easily get approved by any number of lenders and banks.

As a bare minimum, you should:

  • Contact your client around 2 weeks after their home loan is settled to make sure their mortgage is set up correctly.
  • After that, you should be undertaking an annual review to ensure their home loan is still competitive.

The easiest part about all of this is that you can automate these anniversary emails through your Client Relationship Manager (CRM).

Ask your aggregator for help! That’s why they’re there.

Email marketing and EDMs

Sometimes your CRM won’t quite have the functionality and power you need to build a more sophisticated EDM or electronic direct mail campaign.

This is if you plan for settled customers or customers who didn’t proceed with you to fall into an email sequence.

Understand that this is a slow burn exercise of building trust and your overall brand so you’ll want to provide your subscriber with more than just cash rate updates from the Reserve Bank of Australia (RBA).

For example, tips on how to be prepared for their mortgage application, how to buy at auction and growth suburbs to keep an eye on over the next 12 months.

Referral business

Personal recommendations are enormously important to borrowers when selecting a broker.

In fact, around 40% of consumers rely on these recommendations, followed by 22% that rely on professional recommendations (‘Consumers On Brokers’, 1 June 2016, MPA).

That means Australians trust their family and friends more than a recommendation from a professional like a real estate agent.

This is particularly true of high net worth individuals.

Partnership potential

The next component of generating referral business is through a professional model.

Apart from the common strategy of getting referrals from a real estate agent or a buyers agent, consider setting up a partnership with the following professionals in your local area:

  • Conveyancers and solicitors (that specialise in property).
  • Accountants.
  • Financial planners.
  • Financial advisers.

What you’re paying these referral partners for are high-quality leads and a high conversion rate, and, to be clear, you will pay.

Most referral models work on a revenue sharing basis where you may pay anywhere between 20-50% of your upfront and trail commission.

You may instead come to an agreement where you provide each other with a certain quote of business in order to reduce the referrer fee.

It’s also difficult to delegate this to brokers in your team because it’s your partner’s brand at stake as well so some may not be willing to send clients to mortgage brokers they don’t know.

Tips

The trick is deciding if the referral partner is getting more benefit from the relationship than you are. If so, be prepared to pull the plug quickly.

It’s worth having a formal agreement in place and getting legal advice before entering into a referral partnership particularly if you haven’t worked together in the past.

For example, the agreement should generally stipulate that referral payments or commission splits will only be actioned after the home loan is settled.

When it comes to dealing with accountants specifically, it’s essential that you have an understanding of commercial and business lending. That being said they mostly refer residential loans!

As for real estate agents, try taking the younger agents under your wing and building a relationship with them as it’s much easier to do this than to focus on established agents.

Beware of subscription-based lead generation services

Some lead generation businesses will try to woo you with smooth-talking reps and nice line graphs but many of them don’t really understand mortgage broking and the type of leads that convert.

You may end up flooded with unqualified leads at many different stages of the buying cycle.

The key to success is to give them a clear brief as to what leads you want and be prepared to walk away quickly if you don’t see results.

There are typically two models when it comes to lead generation businesses:

  • Fee for service where you pay a fee for lead generation and you actually own the product, pipeline or advertising campaign that has been created.
  • Pay per lead where you’re paying for a lead but you don’t own the solution after paying. While fee for service will typically cost you more upfront, you pay more over the long run with a pay per lead model and you won’t have the opportunity to tweak the lead generation strategy to your own ends.

Seminars

The fact is that there isn’t a lot of good information out there for everyday Australians wanting to purchase or invest in a property.

By hosting a seminar and providing free information you can fill in this gap and, in so doing, build trust with leads by positioning yourself as an expert.

It shows that you truly understand the fear and confusion of the home loan process and buying a property.

The main benefit of seminars is that you can generate a high number of leads in a short period of time.

The drawback is that it’s expensive and the failure rate can be high.

It comes down to:

  • Getting the content of the seminar right.
  • Effectively marketing the event.
  • Organising and renting the venue, organising refreshments and ensuring the venue is equipped with audio/visual equipment.
  • Having a basic level of technical knowledge to ensure your presentation runs smoothly.
  • Having enough brokers to speak with attendees after the event and gather their details for follow up.

Running a seminar can leave you exposed like a nerve and quickly damage your reputation if you don’t get the messaging right.

Instead of going it alone, consider putting on a seminar jointly with a local real estate agent and/or a conveyancer.

You can still source new leads and build your brand but the marketing and venue expense is about a third of the cost.

Social media

Facebook and, to a lesser extent, Google Plus (Google+) and Twitter, is a great way to build your brand online.

Starting a Facebook fan page is the lowest cost and lowest barrier to entry in the world of Internet marketing.

However, the ease of using social media shouldn’t mask the challenge of getting your strategy right.

Will you post once a day or once a week?

What will you post about?

Will you manage the account or can you provide guidance to your colleagues so the account can be managed jointly?

The small details count so here are some quick tips to ensure that you’re presenting the best possible version of you:

  • A high-resolution and well-designed logo.
  • Upload high-quality photos and videos (smartphones are in-built with good quality cameras and microphones) that relate to your work life, wins with clients (these are your testimonials) and anything that educates your fan base on home loans or property.
  • Keep your status updates “on brand” with your company culture whether you specialise in helping homeowners get into the market, helping investors with a good mortgage strategy or keeping bad credit or overseas borrowers informed on changes to sensitive areas of lending policy.
  • Share content that you’ve produced and ensure it is original, well-researched and, overall, shareable.
  • You need to have your licensing details listed and a link to your privacy policy.
  • Customers need to be aware that the information they provide to you will be safeguarded.

The fact that you can reach a lot of people with minimal effort is a double-edged sword.

When you get the messaging wrong or you target the wrong people with paid posts, your audience can either switch off or turn on you.

Don’t forget that ratings and reviews are there for everyone to see so it’s best that you have good processes, a good team and a solid dispute resolution plan in place before going down the social media path.

Trying your hand with an “organic” or free approach is a great way to get the hang of using these systems but understand your reach and conversion rate will be low.

Even brokers that have been using social media for years struggle to get direct enquiries from Facebook.

Again, the goal here is to build your brand and get people engaged with your expertise and knowledge on home loans and property, not necessarily getting leads directly.

Harking back to your unique value proposition, think about what value you’re providing. Would you read or like the content you’re sharing?

Alternatively, going down the paid route and you’re faced with the challenge of building audiences, matching content for those audiences and setting budgets for how much you’re willing to spend on boosted posts and ads.

It can get really expensive really fast and, besides that, paid social media advertising tends to only work in conjunction with other marketing on a multi-channel basis.

Web design and SEO

As a minimum, you need to have a website but, more than that, it should have a modern design and be optimised for search engine results (SEO).

This is easier said than done and, on top of that, it’s a never-ending process of improvement.

As a minimum, the website should:

  • Highlight your unique value proposition.
  • Highlight brand excellence including clearly displaying your credit licence number, your membership with a recognised professional body and any industry awards you’ve won.
  • Have a library of content that provides valuable information that borrowers and home buyers can use.

Having a good website is more of a branding exercise than a direct lead generation tool and it can take a while to get traction so that’s just something to be aware of.

Google advertising

A more direct approach to generating mortgage broker leads is to create Google ad campaigns.

These are the ads that tend to take up the first 3 to 4 results on Google search. They’re distinctive because the URLs have green writing and they have the word ‘Ad’ next to it.

The great thing about this is that you can reach a large proportion of your marketing very quickly.

It’s also pretty easy to set up an ad.

The trick is that you have to really understand your audience because the targeting options can be vast and confusing. It’s so easy to target the wrong keywords and demographics with your ads.

Therefore, the potential the spend a lot of money on unqualified leads is high.

You can overcome the problem with expense over time but it really depends on how much time you’re willing to put into researching Google advertising and keyword research.

You also have to regularly look at your own customer data as to what type of clients tend to convert and which ones aren’t worth spending advertising dollars on.

The reality is that major banks, lenders and large broking firms price smaller players out of the market.

It’s now at a point that that market is so saturated that where your ads are placed on Google results can change on a daily basis.

Because of this, you have to constantly monitor your account to ensure that you’re staying within budget and your conversion rate justifies your level of impressions and clicks (click-through-rate or CTR).

3 golden tips on compliant advertising

You must adhere to the National Consumer Credit Protection Act 2009 (NCCP Act) when advertising your services to the public.

These guidelines are set out in the Australian Securities and Investments Commission’s (ASIC’s) Regulatory Guide 234 (RG 234).

We encourage you to have a read of the guide in full but to give you a breakdown, here are the top five golden tips for compliant advertising.

Terminology

ASIC come down hard on misleading advertising so here are some popular words that they don’t allow:

  • Free service
  • Best
  • Massive savings
  • Independent service
  • Guaranteed

To keep clear of ASIC’s watchful eye, try using the following terms instead:

  • Find the right home loan for your needs/circumstances
  • Personalised assistance
  • Complementary
  • We provide you with competitive choices

Be careful with disclaimers

Advertising and marketing essential in attracting new business but you’re advertising to a whole range of individuals with different financial situations.

For the customer to make a decision based solely on the limited information on an advertisement would constitute a poor financial decision.

To address this, advertising should include a disclaimer explaining that the customer should seek financial advice to ensure that they choose a product that’s right for them.

For example, the suitability of this home loan will depend on your financial situation and overall financial needs.

Why the industry is behind in lead generation

Only around 5% of mortgage brokers are generating enough leads to keep their business viable, according to a study by Wealthify, a digital marketing and lead generation company.

The Wealthify Broker Digital Pulse was based on a survey of 3,000 finance brokers conducted in June 2017.

Around 56% of the brokers surveyed said they were “not receiving enough leads” while 39% said they could “do with more”.

The report found that the broking industry has a heavy reliance on referral business, without around 92% of those polled relying on referrals.

This a problematic strategy because there are a number of low-cost online brokers as well as online lenders emerging every day which are competing and sometimes undercutting the banks on price and convenience.

Another 34% were getting most of their leads from Facebook ads, followed by referrals with real estate agents, conveyancers and accountants among others (31%) and efforts using social media (30%).

A good brokerage shouldn’t leave you wanting for leads.

Unfortunately, some brokerages don’t want to spend or don’t have the time and resources to build a solid mortgage broker lead generation strategy.

Home Loan Experts is one of the few with an industry-leading marketing strategy that’s managed by a a dedicated in-house marketing and technology team.

Check out our careers page to discover more about Home Loan Experts and our current career opportunities.

If you’re in Sydney then consider working for us.

If you’re still not sure, sign up for our broker info night to learn even more about our benefits and work culture. Alternatively, send through your resume to careers@homeloanexperts.com.au and we’ll have a chat.